By Terri Jo Neff |
With nearly $7,000 becoming available for every K-12 student to attend a private school or be homeschooled through the recent expansion of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), the Arizona Department of Education’s website has been overwhelmed with parents seeking to apply.
The credit becomes available on Sept. 24 but the number of parents applying in advance has created issues for the Department of Education’s website. An advisory posted to the website this week noted “high volume” may cause users to receive an error message when trying to establish an account.
On Saturday, Ducey took to Twitter as word spread about the tremendous interest.
The ESA expansion legislation sponsored by Rep. Ben Toma provides families of all 1.1 million of Arizona’s K-12 students the option of allocating 90 percent of state funding which would have been allocated to the student’s district or charter school and have it be available for private school tuition, home-schooling, tutoring, and other educational needs such as transportation, textbooks, and computers.
Among the permitted expenditures for homeschoolers is the cost of specialized teachers for subjects such as foreign language, art, and music.
Ducey presided over a Aug. 17 ceremonial signing of HB2853. He later said making ESAs available to all of Arizona’s K-12 students was putting “the power back in the hands of parents, who are best suited to make decisions for their children’s education.”
Jenny Clark, founder of Love Your School, attended last week’s ceremony (Ducey actually signed HB2853 on July 7). Clark says Arizona’s ESA program can be life-changing for Arizona’s students.
“My five children have benefitted from ESAs and I can’t help but think how many kids don’t get the help they need,” Clark said. “Now, they will. Every child in Arizona will have the same opportunities and ability to get the education tailored to their needs.”
Corey A. DeAngelis of the Federation for Children was one of the stakeholders involved in ensuring passage of HB2853, calling it “a national model” that empowers parents. He too used Twitter to comment on what the high demand on the ADE website means.
“This is why the government school monopoly fights so hard against giving families a choice,” DeAngelis wrote. “They’re terrified. They know parents want alternatives.”
Information about ESAs and eligibility can be found at https://www.azed.gov/esa